Only Bismarck shelter for homeless men closes after 30 years
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The only shelter for homeless men in Bismarck-Mandan has closed after 30 years, coinciding with the first snowflakes of the season this week.
The Ruth Meiers Hospitality House closed Thursday, The Bismarck Tribune reported. A sign posted on the facility’s entrance said residents were to evacuate by 7 a.m. or be charged with trespassing.
Advocates for the homeless lament the loss of what they consider an essential service for the community. Shelter residents questioned where they would go during the winter.
“I’m just going to sleep outside,” said shelter resident, Beau Azure. “The city don’t care; nobody cares here. We’re homeless; they’re glad to see us die.”
The shelter charged its residents $2 a night. Residents may now go to Ruth Meiers’ primary facility, which offers a transitional living program for $60 a week. But the shelter doesn’t admit people with certain felony convictions, including sex offenders or those convicted of violent crimes.
“It’s almost like they did it on purpose,” said shelter resident Terry Pierson.
Pierson stayed at the shelter on numerous occasions for the past three years. He said he will sleep in his car.
Interim executive director for Ruth Meiers, Steve Neu, said residents were made aware of the possible closure.
The facility opened in response to those in need of emergency shelter in 1987.
“Their community support came because they provided emergency shelter,” said Sister Kathleen Atkinson, who works with men in her prison re-entry ministry. “It continues as a need and now we’re in a crisis, responding to that need.”
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com